Brazil leads South American smart grid infrastructure market

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South America is positioned to be a key market for smart grid infrastructure investment over the next decade. The region's power sector is plagued by pervasive electricity theft, poor reliability and operational inefficiencies.

Utilities in South America are now looking to smart grid infrastructure to solve these problems and large-scale deployments are already underway. The region will invest $38.1 billion in modernizing its power infrastructure from 2015-2025, according to a new study published by Northeast Group.

"Brazil is by far the largest market in the region for smart grid investment," said Ben Gardner, President of Northeast Group. "After several false starts, the country is now beginning large-scale deployments. In just the past year, Brazilian utilities have announced deployments of over 3 million smart meters and will invest $25.6 billion over the next ten years."

"Beyond Brazil, countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina are serious about grid modernization and planning significant investment," continued Gardner. "In total, South America will invest $22.6 billion in smart metering, $7.2 billion in distribution automation and $8.3 billion in other smart grid market segments over the forecast period."

Utilities in the region see smart metering as the most effective tool for combating rampant electricity theft. About 9 percent of South America's electricity is stolen, with some service territories' theft rates exceeding 30 percent. Smart grid infrastructure will also help the region to incorporate vast renewable energy potential by helping to manage the intermittency of these resources.

Vendors view South America as one of the next key battlegrounds for winning major contracts. International players such as ABB, Aclara, Alstom, Elster, GE, Iskraemeco, Itron, Kamstrup, Landis+Gyr, Schneider, S&C, SEL, Sensus, Siemens, Silver Spring Networks, Trilliant and Ziv are all well positioned in the market. Several local vendors are also competitive such as Weg, ELO, Nansen, CAM and others.

South America is emerging as a key geography for Chinese vendors hoping to steal market share from the European and North America vendors. Recently, Hexing acquired Eletra Energia to boost its position in Brazil and Wasion has announced smart meter projects in Brazil. Other Chinese vendors will be looking for similar deals.

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